The Earth circles the Sun, Ice Ages come and go and the world is full of eternal wonders and is constantly changing but there is one simple factor that we can all rely on and that is that Magnum will continue to release melodic/pomp rock albums of the highest order and will remain a band without equal.
The band actually started way back in 1972 and I came a little late to the party as I only discovered them in 1978 and instantly knew that they were the band for me. Little did I know (and maybe even the band as well) that we all would still have that same sense of wonder and amazement when hearing their latest album some 50 years later! Just stop and think about that for a moment to consider 50 years in the music business with all of its accompanying highs and lows and the changes that have occurred in the world let alone Birmingham. Also, it is damned frightening to think that 50 years before the band formed it was 1922 which was only 4 years after the ending of WWI and that is how long a 50 year span is! So, hats off to Magnum for still being with us in 2022 and producing music that is still as fresh, exciting and relevant today as it was in 1978 when they released Kingdom Of Madness, an album that still stands the test of time.
The latest version of the band sees the same team that brought us the excellent The Serpent Rings in 2020 with the ever present and reliable pairing of guitarist Tony Clarkin and singer Bob Catley and it is amazing that you simply cannot think about one of them without thinking of the other, surely one of the greatest double acts the rock world has ever seen. Rick Benton provides amazing keyboards, Lee Morris is excellent on drums and in Dennis Ward (ex-Pink Cream 69, Unisonic, Place Vendome) on bass the final piece of the jigsaw has fallen into place. This is in no way meant to be detrimental to previous bassist Al Barrow as he was and remains a quality musician and was a long serving and much respected member of Magnum but it has to be said that Dennis Ward is a class act. I think many people have commented on the album cover art which, for sure, is not a typical Magnum cover but I’m guessing that Clarkin had many monsters to write about during the recording of the album dues to the crazy times we live in and the actual politics that affect our everyday lives. Tony has always been a wonderful and socially aware song writer so why not have the cover that they have gone with as there are real monsters in this world? The photograph was actually produced by Rob Barrow, brother of former bassist Al Barrow so it is nice that the work is being kept within the Magnum family. In any case, the name on the cover is Magnum and it is the music that I am really interested in anyway but it’s great to see that that they still want to shake thing up!
As for the music, then it still very much follows the winning formula with pomp rock songs perfectly delivered with Tony Clarkin supplying plenty of his trademark guitar riffs and runs and we really should celebrate this stellar musician and how many more accolades can be heaped on to singer extraordinaire Bob Catley, the man with the million dollar voice which remains as smooth and mellifluous as it ever was and he still can hold those notes like no other. Yes, the guys are much older these days but class is permanent and they still retain the ability to thrill and amaze. The band can still rock as of old and when they put the foot down they can be as heavy and devastating as any band but the melody always shines through which makes the band such a pleasure to listen too. As usual, they fill the album with anthemic stadium rockers and quality ballads which Catley still handles so well and he truly does have a voice that is as strong as ever it was. There will indeed come a time when the power is no longer there but it is not this time and I doubt it will be any time soon as the guys keep themselves fit and retain the love of recording and playing live.
The new songs are all typical Magnum burning monster that build up to a crescendo and explode with a power that overwhelms the senses so that you simply want to hear them again and again. The albums roars into life with the aggressive The Monster Roars which has a sophisticated and smooth fury and this pattern is maintained throughout the album with every song being special but check out the awesomely beautiful All You Believe In which features some stunning guitar and exquisite piano and is probably as good a track as the band has produced in the last 20-years or so. They even bring in a horn section on No Steppin’ Stones and you are half expecting Phil Collins to handles vocals but Bob Catley comes in and instantly makes it his own and this rather surprising and upbeat tracks shows a different and most welcome side to the band.
Let’s face it, if you are still reading this then you are already a fan and most probably already have the album with The Monster Roars containing all of the usual Magnum trademarks and is another sophisticated romp through melodic rock on which the band shows yet again that when it comes to pomp rock they are on a level totally above any other pretender to their crown.
The Monster Roars
- The Monster Roars (3:57)
- Remember (5:05)
- All You Believe In (5:01)
- I Won’t Let You Down (3:57)
- The Present Not The Past (5:27)
- No Steppin’ Stones (3:57)
- That Freedom Word (4:52)
- Your Blood Is Violence (6:44)
- Walk The Silent Hours (4:51)
- The Day After The Night Before (4:23)
- Come Holy Men (5:01)
- Can’t Buy Yourself Heaven (5:00)